This was the most competitive years in cinema that I can remember. Two Marvel behemoths, two Pixar installations, two major franchise comebacks, and a bloody Minions film called Minions. The sheer number of franchises fighting for attention this year validated this DenofGeek article in 2013. The sheer number of sequels and so on was almost depressing, but thankfully we were graced with some wonderful experiences in a really competitive year of cinema.
So, this was the year that I finally invested in a cineworld card so that I would finally get on with it and no miss films that I really wanted to see. Moving to London and not being the type to stay at home on weekends, it gave me something to do and keep up with. Although I failed to keep up with myself and actually write up reviews each time, I will endeavour to do that more this year as I continue to try and improve my writing abilities.
In mind of the fact that I will not be including Star Wars in my top ten, and I also had to reject some other strong releases in the forms of The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Ant-Man, I present to you the five best films I saw in the cinema this year. I also honourably mention Bridge of Spies for surprising me with how entertaining it was, but with these omissions from the films I saw from this year’s releases being honourably mentioned, not placed in my top five, I just hope you find my suggestions interesting.
It now goes without saying that this is a modern masterpiece. I saw it in the cinema twice and remained on the edge of my seat throughout. The jokes are fast and the totally unique setting allowed for unexplored areas of human emotion to literally get the air time we’ve never seen before in quite such detail and inventiveness. Unlike other comedies and animations this year, we were not spending time enthralled by the quality of the animation as it was just a given. The story and characters are now iconic.
What truly speaks to me about the quality of Inside Out is the fact that as a cinema-going public, for a long time, we have ridiculed Pixar’s recent reliance on franchises, sequels, and that form of repetitiveness. Every time I see Inside Out with new people, they instantly want more. As much as I don’t want the magic spoilt, this was truly magical.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
For me, this was among the most underrated films of the year. I know it was warmly received by all who saw it, but if there was one film that deserved more attention than it got, this was it for me. Three brilliant leads (Thomas Mann as Greg, Oliva Cooke as Rachel, and downright revelation RJ Cyler as Earl), with wonderful material and the most legitimate use of the cutaway gag I have seen on screen. It puts The Fault in Our Stars’ overly cheesey and downright dreary exploration of illness in adolescents to shame. Gritty, speedy, and with a much more interesting angle.
Greg doesn’t want to be anything, especially best friends with anyone, and is forced to befriend childhood friend and lukeamia patient, Rachel. The lack of chemistry between the friends must itself be worthy of praise as the chemistry between Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke made for some electrifying drama and once the group is a three with the titular Earl, a playful comedy. The school world is minimal but realistic, and the filmmaking hobby is always a treat.
I won’t spoil it, but with a film of this name and subject matter, you can guess roughly where it went story-wise, and when the turns and paces are motioned through, you are completely surprised. Real characters encounter this story for once, and their own surrealness was exciting and definitely worth your time.
Aaron Sorkin. Danny Boyle. Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet. This is quite the winning combination, and we have a truly brilliant Sorkin screenplay. Told in literally just three real-time scenes and transitions that barely count as montages, Fassbender is forced to the top of his game; which he is at in this brilliant and speedy two hours. The play-like and real-time structure makes for wonderfully well-reheasred scenes to play out with the arguing players competing to scene steal from Fassbender, particularly Jeff Daniels and Seth Rogen.
Three acts. Three scenes. Four supporting characters juggled in perfect balance to provide the right lines to bring drama into this character piece in the right times. The timing between each interplay is just right. The three launches that form the three acts are all engaging. It saves itself from being a West Wing walk-and-talking movie thanks to Danny Boyle’s excellent visuals on offer.
The sheer pace of the film despite it being 5 people arguing about how well a bloke is running a computer business is breath-taking and there are more jokes in here than some of the comedy films offered this year had. A shame to not see this having more success.
Carol was stunning and perfect. As a student, I watched lots of the Todd Haynes back catalogue, and didn’t entirely ‘get it’, particularly Far From Heaven. This was different. Slow, touching, and utterly beautiful. The performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are rightly getting oodles of praise, but so should Todd Haynes. Whenever we see anything from Rooney Mara’s Therese’s point of view, we see the blurred images and fast glances, we see things through the camera, through windows, around corners. When Blanchett’s titular Carol is our eyepiece, we have someone lost in the world and moving through it slowly to look at everything. The sets are gorgeous, the soundtrack is delightful.
Is it a sexy and slow romance? Maybe. Is it a confusing and scary crime thriller? Probably.
Its wonderful and like the finest glass of wine you had this year as a viewing pleasure.
Ridley Scott’s directorial return for this year was adapted from The Martian and the screenplay by Drew Goddard, and it was spectacular. This could have easily been a film with the isolated Matt Damon and his crew fighting the establishment back home as he tries to survive on Mars after being left behind, but it wasn’t. A brilliant and uplifting ensemble cast. The brilliantly funny Donald Glover and the always-fabulous Jessica Castain are just some of the cast that really make their roles exciting and fun to behold. Further applause is due to Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, and Sean Bean for each leaving memorable marks upon the film. It is a real ensemble effort, and each gets a shining moment.
For me, I remember this film the most out of any (non-Star-Wars…) film this year. Throughout the film, I and other members of the audience were on the edges of our seats, laughing at some spectacular physical and wordy nerdy comedy. The tension remained constant, and the film genuinely surprises with its twists, turns and exciting beats.
All of the films I’ve listed here were more emotionally engaging than other offerings this year, but the total fear and rejuvenation in the human adventure of The Martian and the crew were there to truly excite the room. The film’s emotional pull really succeeds because like Inside Out, we have a very exciting and nail-biting look at the human condition. In a film about growing potatoes out of poo on mars. If Carol was the finest wine you will have all year, this is the most excellent and well-considered drunk night out where you got just drunk enough and weren’t that hungover as you remembered the whole conversation because the details were so much damn fun.
And those were 2015’s cinema offerings that really won me over. May 2016 win us just as well.